Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (Ipic) has awarded a project management and consultancy (PMC) contract for the front-end and design (Feed) stage of its Fujairah refinery project to the US’ Shaw Group.

The deal shows Ipic has given the stalled $3bn project the go ahead, which was confirmed by a senior company official.

“The refinery project, in addition to being of strategic importance, will create social and economic benefits for Fujairah and other Northern Emirates,” Khadem al-Quabisi, Ipic’s managing director said in a statement.

The 200,000 barrel a day (b/d) refinery will be built near Abu Dhabi’s main oil pipeline and Fujairah’s deep water export terminals.

Movement on the Fujairah project could indicate that Ipic will go ahead with further refinery projects in the region.

Ipic had in 2010 awarded or restarted feasibility studies for the Fujairah refinery and a planned refinery in Morocco, as well as an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex in Oman. The Fujairah refinery feasibility study was awarded to UK consultancy Wood MacKenzie in July last year.

The investment company had started the tendering process for feed work for those projects, as well as a refinery in Pakistan and an expansion programme in Jordan, before the slump in the oil price during the global recession forced it to put all projects on hold by early 2009.

Oil prices have rebounded over the past 18 months and are currently at about $107 a barrel, increasing the profitability of downstream projects. In 2009, crude prices dropped to as low as $40 a barrel.